SANTA CLARA, Calif. -
Historic happenings usually occur at WrestleMania, and the 31st edition of the Super Bowl of wrestling delivered quite a few of them.
Before 76,976 fans at Levi's Stadium, the WWE put on its best pay-per-view offering in quite some time, making it back-to-back years in which the company delivered on its biggest stage.
WrestleMania 31 was the highest grossing event in WrestleMania history, making the show a success artistically and financially for the WWE.
With the show emanating from sunny California, most of the event was soaked in sunlight, so it was a memorable show purely from an aesthetic standpoint.
However, the time for general observations is now done. It is time to get down to the nitty-gritty of the showcase of the immortals with some in-depth observations and highlights.
I'm going to change up the format a little bit since I have some type of takeaway from every match that took place. We shall start with the biggest match of the evening (the main event) and work our way down the card:
WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Seth Rollins def. Brock Lesnar & Roman Reigns
In a shocking turn of events, Seth Rollins became the first person in WWE history to cash in his Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania when he did this during the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.
Rollins made good on his cash-in attempt as he curb-stomped Lesnar and Reigns after they had taken a ton of punishment and pinned Reigns to win his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Despite Rollins' being a heel, the fans in Levi's Stadium were overjoyed to hear his music and became even more elated when the referee's hand hit the mat for the third time, crowning him the new champion.
That's because unlike Reigns, the fans feel as though Rollins has paid more than enough dues to have the honor bestowed upon him of being the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Not to mention that it was rather shocking, which only added to the fans' euphoria.
Rollins' victory means that for the second year in a row, a former Ring of Honor World Champion has walked out of WrestleMania as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Last year, that distinction went to Daniel Bryan.
Before Rollins shocked the world, the match between Lesnar and Reigns was quite entertaining. Lesnar dominated the vast majority of the match with a slew of German suplexes and painful-looking strikes.
To his credit, Reigns withstood the punishment, occasionally cracking a smile before receiving even more punishment. Reigns was able to get back into the math after he shoved Lesnar into the ring post, which busted him open.
But just as Reigns was ready to complete his comeback, Rollins came down and changed the entire complexion of the match and the WWE at the same time.
The biggest question coming out of this is: Where does each man go from here? For Rollins, how long does he keep the title and who will be his first challenger? For Lesnar, does he invoke a rematch at the next pay-per-view or does he go back on another hiatus? If he does invoke his rematch clause at Extreme Rules or sooner, how do you book the outcome? With Lesnar re-signed to a multi-year deal, how light will his work schedule be from here on out?
What about Reigns? For the last three months, it looked as though he was being shoved into the position as the next face of the company after his polarizing Royal Rumble victory back in January. The WWE did all it could to make Reigns credible and endear him to fans, but it didn't quite work. He was unmercifully booed the entire weekend and the crowd in Levi's Stadium definitely didn't want him to walk out of Santa Clara as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Regardless of what lies ahead, the WWE not only created a shocking moment with Rollins' cash in, but it also added intrigue around the top prize in its company moving forward. For those two reasons, I say that the main event of WrestleMania 31 was a success.
The Undertaker def. Bray Wyatt
Up until Sunday night, we hadn't seen The Undertaker since he lost at WrestleMania XXX to Brock Lesnar, ending his undefeated streak at WrestleMania.
When he returned at WrestleMania 31, it was like he had never left. The Undertaker picked up right where he left off and looked to be in very good shape for a 50-year-old man that has taken 100 years worth of punishment.
For the first time since WrestleMania IX, it wasn't completely dark for The Undertaker's entrance, but that didn't take away from the spectacle of it all.
The match itself was very good. As a matter of fact, it actually exceeded my expectations. It had some good action, some good near falls, and a satisfying outcome. I also thought Bray Wyatt more than held his own against a future Hall of Famer.
While the streak is no more, The Undertaker improved to an impressive 22-1 at WrestleMania. That's still pretty darn impressive.
Ronda Rousey & The Rock took care of The Authority
The Authority, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, were in the ring for a promo after it was announced that more than 76,000 fans were in attendance for WrestleMania 31. They boasted and bragged about all of their victories until The Rock interrupted the gloat fest.
The Rock came down and said that he wanted to create a WrestleMania moment, but McMahon was not having any of that. McMahon demanded that The Rock dismiss himself from the ring. Once The Rock didn't budge, she gave him a nice, hard slap to the face.
She then challenged The Rock to do something to her. Just when it looked like The Rock was going to walk away with his tail between his legs, he went to the front row to enlist some help.
He found some very good help in the form of UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. Rousey hopped over the guard and jumped into the ring at The Rock's request.
At first, McMahon attempted to cement her friendship with the dangerous Rousey, but when she realized that the champion wasn't budging, she attempted to intimidate her. The Rock and Triple H eventually came to blows, which set up Rousey to deliver a judo throw to Triple H and shove down McMahon.
This segment was very long due to the fact the WWE was clearly trying to stretch for time, but it was effective. It was mostly effective because it got Rousey, the biggest star in mixed martial arts, to get physical on the company's biggest stage.
There's always been talk of Rousey potentially getting involved with the WWE in some capacity. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of that.
WWE United States Championship – John Cena def. Rusev
In the most predictable outcome of the evening, John Cena won his first United States Championship in 11 years when he handed Rusev his first-ever pin fall loss in the WWE.
Although the outcome was essentially a foregone conclusion, it didn't take away from the entertainment value of the match.
Both men had stirring entrances with Rusev coming down on top of a tank and with men dressed as Russian soldiers while Cena had an inspirational video about America with cameos from former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
The action inside the ring, however, delivered on multiple fronts. Rusev may no longer be undefeated, but he proved that his ready to be in the main event in the very near future.
The only thing I wasn't a fan of was some teasing of dissension between Rusev and Lana. Rusev and Lana are so great as a pair that I don't want to see them split up. They complement each other so well.
Paige & AJ Lee def. The Bella Twins
In a bit of a surprising move, this match was not the next-to-last match on the show. I thought that with the time the four women were given, they made good on it and put on a pretty good match.
Triple H def. Sting
Sting walking down the aisle and stepping into the ring for a match at a WrestleMania was a truly historic moment for the wrestling business.
However, the history didn't stop there.
Not many were sure what to expect out of these two, but I'm happy to report that Sting looked to be in tremendous shape, especially considering he's creeping up on 60.
The match was good, but business picked up out of nowhere with the interference of Triple H's buddies in D-Generation X, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn and X-Pac.
But wait there's more. To counter DX's interference, the original incarnation of the New World Order, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, came down to help Sting (!!!) and fight off DX, bringing a dream scenario to life. It felt like 1997 all over again.
All of the ancillary players in the match took bumps, including Hogan, who was thrown into the ring post and took a spill afterward.
But just when Sting looked to be in position to win the match, Shawn Michaels interfered on behalf of DX.
Eventually, Sting and Triple H got their hands on their signature weapons. However, Sting broke Triple H's sledgehammer in half with his baseball bat.
But Triple H still found a way to utilize his favorite weapon and it helped pick up a rather surprising victor over Sting in his first WWE match.
While the match was very, very fun, I don't believe Sting should have lost in his WWE debut under any circumstances. With that being said, I don't understand why the New World Order took it upon itself to defend Sting. World Championship Wrestling I guess?
For the life of me I don't know why WCW even played a factor in this feud, but it did lead to a battle between the nWo and DX, so I'm not that upset. But I still believe Sting should have won.
The handshake between Sting and Triple H after the match was kind of puzzling, too. I just didn't quite get it. Again, it was a fun match, but the story that was told was kind of confusing to me.
Randy Orton def. Seth Rollins
Before Rollins closed the show with a WrestleMania moment, he was on the other side of one during his match with Randy Orton.
Although I was not a fan of the way this match was built, the execution of the match was great. The highlight of the contest was the finish, when Rollins went for a curb stomp, but after he jumped really high into the air off Orton's head, Orton caught him with an RKO on the way down. It was probably the best RKO I've ever seen and it was truly out of nowhere.
With Rollins now holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, I have a feeling this isn't the final chapter in this rivlary.
WWE Intercontinental Championship – Daniel Bryan def. Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, R-Truth, Bad News Barrett & Stardust
In what was almost guaranteed to be an entertaining match, Daniel Bryan won his first Intercontinental Championship after a thrilling ladder match against six other opponents.
As expected, there was a lot of high-risk action throughout the contest, but the most insane spot belonged to Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper after Harper power bombed Ambrose from inside of the ring onto a bunch of ladders outside of the ring, cracking one of them in half. It looked like the back of Ambrose's head landed on one of the rungs of the ladder.
The finish to this match was epic as well with Bryan and Dolph Ziggler fighting for the title at the top of the ladder. After exchanging punches, the two former world champions began to mercilessly head-butting each other.
Bryan eventually won the head-butt battle and claimed the Intercontinental Championship.
Although Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at last year's WrestleMania, him winning the Intercontinental Championship is a nice consolation prize.
Kickoff show: Big Show wins Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
If Sting losing was the most disappointing finish, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was probably second.
Late in the match, Damien Mizdow and The Miz were two of the final three people left in the match when The Miz proposed that they gang up on Big Show. Mizdow refused and eventually tossed The Miz out of the ring, which made the crowd go crazy. It was then down to only Mizdow and Big Show.
With the fans firmly behind him, it looked like Mizdow was going to win the match, but to no avail, as Big Show tossed Mizdow out of the ring to become the second winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Kickoff show: WWE Tag Team Championship - Kidd & Cesaro def. The New Day, Los Matadores & The Usos